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I recently attended The NAFEM Show 2019 and saw the good, bad and ugly as far as booth design. It’s true that foodservice equipment can sometimes look like the proverbial “stainless steel graveyard,” but there are certainly strategies you can employ to make your equipment more visually appealing. Here’s some advice based on my recent experience at NAFEM.

1. Keep it open

Open booth spaces are far more inviting than those that are closed or cluttered. Remember that you want visitors to be able to come into your booth. Sometimes less truly is more. While it is helpful for potential customers to see your equipment in action, be intentional about what pieces you bring to the show and make sure you allow room for potential customers in your booth.

Good example: Frozen Beverage Dispensers was open, with plenty of room for interacting with visitors, and even looked like the beverage counter at a c-store.

2. Use motion to entice visitors

Some of the most compelling booths were those with running water or that had their equipment in motion. Some products were running with the tops off, doing two things: showing what the product does while also piquing visitors’ interests.

Good example: T&S had a pre-rinse unit operating sink that visitors could try out right at the booth.

3. Have a plan for color

Another marketing tactic is to incorporate some color into your booth, whether through signage, design or even equipment. This color technique can be extremely compelling, attracting visitors’ attention, but if done poorly can have the opposite effect. Some brands, for instance, used color but weren’t consistent or clashed with their branding colors. Make sure you have a design team that’s thinking through every color, how it’s interacting with other colors and that it’s on brand.

Good example: Ovention’s bold colors on their equipment really drew the eye.

5. Be true to your brand

Speaking of branding, with a limited booth space, you should make sure every single element, aspect, nook and cranny adheres to your brand guidelines. Don’t, for example, place a plant just to hide some cords if it doesn’t coordinate with the rest of your booth design. If you have chef-led demos, don’t make them loud and rambunctious if you don’t want to associate your brand with loud and rambunctious. Think about every single, tiny aspect of the booth and how that reflects on the brand you’ve painstakingly built.

Good example: MEIKO emphasized the “clean” brand attribute in every part of their booth design.

5. Invest in visually appealing food

Manufacturers invest a significant amount of money in their booths, in shipping equipment, in staffing and training, and in marketing design and materials. But spend just a little more and invest in decent fake food. Displaying food that looks like it belongs in a child’s play-kitchen will not give your brand the best impression (see no. 4) or entice visitors to purchase your equipment. Real food is, of course, the best option, but realistic-looking faux food is a good second choice. Especially with competing booths at tradeshows, remember that presentation is so important.

Good example: Even though it wasn’t available for sampling, LTI had real food on display to help visitors imagine their equipment in action.

Did you attend The NAFEM Show? What design takeaways do you have?

The post Designing Your Booth: NAFEM Takeaways appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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There’s the game. And then there’s the commercials. And, as a card-carrying ad guy, I’m obligated to be more interested in the commercials than the game, right? Neither the game nor the ads were really that thrilling; what follows is my take on what aired this year.

(Here’s the drill, if you haven’t read one of these in the previous years I’ve done it: I give my impressions of every national commercial, from kickoff to final whistle, as they happen, in just a sentence or two. I don’t watch the ads ahead of time, so I can evaluate them just like any other consumer. And I post my comments as soon after the game ends as possible.) So here goes . . .

BON & VIV: 2 mermaids underwater. And bunch of sharks from Finding Nemo. I’m not sure I understood.

M&Ms. The stereotypical mom-driving-while-the-kids-in-the-backseat-create-havoc ad, this time with Christina Applegate as the mom. There’s a few clever phrases, including “Kids I will eat all of you alive right now!” before the cut to the backseat revealing that it’s not kids, but M&Ms. Cute, but not particularly clever.

Hulu. “It’s morning again in America” says the voiceover, with a Hal Riney soundalike mimicking the famous Ronald Reagan campaign ad from 1984. But the twist comes, subtly at first, as the imagery becomes ominous, revealing that it’s an ad for The Handmaid’s Tale. Effective, and a bit depressing.

Bumble. A (becoming overdone) inspiring “women can do anything” motivational message, but it’s not immediately evident from the ad what Bumble is, or why Serena Williams is promoting it.

Hyundai. A very clever setup where we watch people taking an elevator to some of life’s unpleasant experiences, including “The Talk”, “The Middle Seat,” and “Jury Duty” (my favorites “Vegan Dinner Party — is that even a thing?” and “not so fast, Captain Colon – back it up”) “Car Shopping” is the destination of our stars, but they have already started shopping with the Hyundai app — so they get a much better experience. Effective, but a REALLY long lead-up to the punchline.

Turkish Airlines. Is it an ad? Is it a movie? What will happen to the (beautiful, of course) heroine? An interesting tease to a longer Ridley Scott film (“The Journey”), which, one supposes, will help promote all you can experience if you choose Turkish Airlines. The question — will viewers make the effort to go find the film?

Olay. Rainy night. Hockey mask. Terrorized home residents. A phone with face ID that won’t work. And a conversation between the actors about the benefit of — face cream? I get it, but I’m not going to rush out and buy any Olay as a result.

Doritos. Chance the Rapper. A purple plane. A yellow AMC Gremlin. Lots of colored powder. And the Backstreet Boys. “The original — now it’s hot”? I’m not sure I get it, but it was a colorful visual treat.

Weathertech. A golden retriever wanders through the (American) factory, past floor mats and other car accessories, into a lab with lots of other dogs to advertise the new Pet Comfort feeding system. The connection isn’t really clear, nor is the benefit of Pet Comfort.

Captain Marvel movie. Had trouble understanding the dialog. And the franchise references. I’m guessing “Higher. Further Faster.” may mean something to regular fans; it didn’t help me at all.

Bud Light. A large barrel of corn syrup arrives at the Bud Light castle; predictably, “we don’t brew Bud Light with corn syrup” is the response. So, the “charitable” Bud Light castle residents decide to deliver the barrel (up a hill, back down again, through Mordor, a lightning storm, a sea battle with a Kraken) to a couple of competing brewers. Lots of fun, and it clearly gets the point across that Bud Light doesn’t use corn syrup.

Fast & Furious/Hobbs & Shaw. A bad guy who announces himself. Lots of crashes. People in all black. Sliding cars and trucks. “I’m trying to save the world. Because I’m really good at it.” says the Rock (truer words were never spoken). Looks entertaining.

Expensify. A rapper (2 Chainz) in an ice castle (including a frozen 80s supercar) is interrupted by an accountant from the record label who wants receipts for the video shoot. Of course, the rapper doesn’t NEED to turn in receipts, because he uses Expensify. If you didn’t know what Expensify was, it’s a helpful ad. Otherwise, not so much.

Pepsi. The waiter asks the patron who has ordered a Coke “Is Pepsi ok?”. And Steve Carell shows up to narrate a demonstration of why Pepsi is MORE than ok, including a few celebs and a blinged-out can. If I was on the fence about Coke vs. Pepsi, this ad would actually make me NOT want a Pepsi, frankly.

SimpliSafe: Our hero endures all sorts of “the world is out to get you” scenarios throughout the day (including a news feature about “What you don’t know about your garage doors will kill you.”). And, of course, he comes home to a house protected by SimpliSafe. It’s over the top and makes the brand seem like it’s trying too hard.

T-Mobile. We’re watching a phone screen, waiting for a text, only to realize that the text that comes through is a super-long self-reflective “this all started with my childhood” type text. A bit of yawn, although the use of Electric Light Orchestra’s Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” — which happens to match up to the T-Mobile jingle perfectly — was a fun touch.

Audi. A grandfather in a house on a rolling hill in the wilderness invites his adult grandson in, pulls the tarp off an electric Audi, and as our protagonist gets ready to drive away . . . the scene cuts to an office worker performing the Heimlich maneuver on him? And, of course, he’s disappointed he’s not . . . dead? Not sure equating death with your brand, even in a light-hearted manner, is the best choice.

HBO/Game of Thrones. It looks like a Bud Light ad, and the king is at a joust reciting his blessings, including “I don’t have the plague anymore.” But our jousting hero is defeated and the scene is torched by a giant winged dragon, revealing that it’s an ad for . . . the return of Game of Thrones? Was it a co-promotion?

Avocados from Mexico.  It looks like a dog show, but it’s the HUMANS who are the performers, coached by their pets. Interesting use of the typical dog show trope, but it’s not immediately clear the connection to avocados — expect for the one human in the cone of shame that can’t eat her guac.

Pringles. Two guys stack their Pringles varieties to create new flavors, and a home automation assistant starts into a depressing narration about how “she” will never experience flavor. It’s got a really negative feel, unfortunately, which doesn’t help the brand.

Google.  A touching ad showing the ability to use the Google smartphone app to translate on the fly, both aurally and visually. And, according to the ad, the most translated words in the world are “how are you?” “thank you” and “I love you.” Effective, especially if you weren’t aware of the app’s capabilities.

Showtime. Five (maybe?) VERY brief scenes from the network’s own content in slow-mo. And it was over, in about 10 seconds. Was that all they could afford?

Mercedes. The guy at the bar realizes he can change the world by simply speaking: Make the putt. Change color. Find the cat. And, of course, the opera becomes a rap performance. The point is that you can speak to the A-Class Mercedes, and it will respond to you, similar to Alexa. If that’s why you would buy a car, the ad is moderately persuasive.

Persil. Our presenter talks about cleaning “deep stains, in the deep clean layer,” whatever that means. Once he gets there, his mildly suggestive assistant is instructed to “keep it clean.” Ugh.

T-Mobile. Another text ad with an argument about what to have for dinner. The ad reveals that, with T-Mobile, you can get free tacos (?!?) on Tuesday from Taco Bell. So, presumably, you’ll have one fewer argument every week?

Toyota. Jim Nantz narrates another “she’s an inspiration” story, this time about Toni Harris, one of the first women to get a football college scholarship. And she drives a Toyota RAV4. The connection is tenuous, if it exists at all.

Mr. Peanut. The “peanut mobile” goes flying through a town, although it’s unclear why. Charlie Sheen is commentating from a porch. And Alex Rodriguez nearly takes a bite of kale, just as Mr. Peanut arrives? Yikes. I don’t get it.

Mint Mobile. Chunky style milk? Ew. I need to know WAY more about a mobile provider I’ve never heard of. And showing people drinking chunky milk is not helpful. At. All.

Norwegian Cruise Line. Typical cruise ad scenes, including only 2-4 people in every shot (which, if you’ve ever cruised, you would recognize as HIGHLY UNLIKELY). Not original, and entirely forgettable.

TurboTax. A scene with a creepy “robochild” in a garage, who wants to grow up to be a tax assistant. TurboTax needs to read up on the Uncanny Valley before spending $3.2 million on a Super Bowl commercial with a creepy robot. Did I mention it was creepy?

Stella Artois. Sarah Jessica Parker, in a typical New York City restaurant, declines a Manhattan cocktail and instead orders a Stella Artois. The mayhem that ensues is entertaining, as is the appearance of Jeff Bridges (who also requests a “Stella ‘Ar-toes'”) and “The Most Interesting Man in the World” actor. Interesting way to suggest ordering a Stella Artois might be a wise, if different, choice.

Sprint. The by now-ubiquitous spokesperson-and-robots combo is joined by a bizarre collection of other characters, including 80s 2-sport athlete Bo Jackson, who declares “This is the best robot analogy I’ve ever been in.” I was so bewildered I missed the point.

NFL. (Yes, I know, this was during the halftime show, and I normally don’t count network promos or local commercials.) But the fact that they got ALL those NFL greats into a single room was impressive, and the sheer destruction of several dozen cakes and tables full of fine crystal was a joy to watch.

Toyota. A roaring car, racing through what appears to be a life-size pinball machine. Mildly enjoyable, but it definitely feels like it’s been done before.

ADT. The guys from the home improvement show Property Brothers narrate a predictable overview of what a security system can do for you, and they, also predictably, show up outside of a fancy home at the end. Nothing new here, folks. Keep moving.

Kia. A beautifully shot, edited and underscored piece of film, with a child narrating some elegant lines such as “There are no stars in the sidewalk for us” and “We are not famous. But we are incredible.” But the ad is for a Kia Telluride SUV, manufactured in West Point, Georgia? An SUV doesn’t seem nearly as important as the lead-up would suggest. It’s a gorgeous ad, but I’m let down by what it’s for.

Bubly. Associating the sparkling drink Bubly with Michael Bublé is great casting. And I love the closing with the singer using a marker to change all cans in the cooler from a “y” to an “é”. Nicely done.

T-Mobile. The song “All by Myself” accompanies a texter who confuses the Lyft driver with someone else, all to demonstrate that you can get a free Lyft ride from T-Mobile.

Wix. Watch me design a website. Watch me set up SEO. You can do this too. Not terribly clever or original, but the ad is effective nonetheless. Sometimes basic is better.

Netflix. Gorgeous nature photography that you would expect from National Geographic teases an upcoming Netflix original film. Just another way Netflix is trying to demonstrate it’s a content force to be reckoned with.

Michelob Ultra. Runners, golfers, and cyclists are all shown up by a robot. But when they go to a bar, the robot stares longingly at what it can’t have. “It’s only worth it if you can enjoy it.” is the punchline. True, perhaps, but not terribly compelling.

Verizon. LA Chargers coach Anthony Lynn speaks to first responders that helped save his life. And a quiet plug for Verizon at the end.

Devour. A man addicted to frozen dinners get an intervention by his wife, and all the cues treat it as though it were a porn addiction. It’s clever, and riddled with more double entendres than I could count. Devour has played up the publicity angle on this as well with a “not safe for TV” version — it’s a risky approach, but the strategy seems as though it may work.

Google. The ad starts by showing a collection of numbers, filling the screen: 19D, 2A6X1, 21E. As the ad progresses, the shots pull back to show these are numbers associated with U.S military classifications, and that Google can now help veterans search for jobs by their military code. Nicely edited and narrated, and a great demonstration of a little-known feature of Google.

Colgate Total. A “close talker” circulates among the office, doing, you guessed it, close talking, all up in people’s faces, to demonstrate that Colgate Total is perfect for close talkers like him. Ok, I guess.

Amazon Prime.  An ad for the upcoming series Hanna, apparently about an unassuming girl who is a trained killer. “Be the girl no one saw coming,” says the narrator. It looks interesting, but nothing to write home about.

Skechers. Tony Romo likes to make life easy for himself, such as by playing golf with a hole the size of a small pond. That’s why he wears Skechers. Um, ok.

Bud Light. We’re treated to some medieval barbers talking about corn syrup. I think they must have run out of money producing the first “corn syrup” ad, as this one is underwhelming.

Microsoft. Owen, who has Escobar’s Syndrome, loves video games. Microsoft’s adaptive controller let’s him play with his friends. Touching without being overdone.

Weathertech. An entire ad about a phone mount that fits in your cupholder. You know, the kind of thing you can find at Best Buy or in the checkout aisle at TJ Maxx for $7.99. Wow.

Bud Light. The medieval folks are back again — this time, it’s Trojan horse occupants whispering beer ingredients. I’m no expert on medieval warfare, but I can’t help but wonder if this was just a bit anachronistic?

Verizon. A collection of players saved by first responders, titled “The team that wouldn’t be here.” Another gentle plug for Verizon, cloaked in a tribute to emergency personnel.

Burger King. For 30 seconds we watch a man, presumably Andy Warhol, eating a Whopper. And the ad closes with the hashtag #eatlikeandy. Am I missing something?

Budweiser. The typical Dalmatian sitting atop of the wagon; the difference is that this time the wagon winds its way through a field of wheat and — wait for it — windmills. Because Budweiser is now brewed with wind power, of course. An effective way of sharing that message, but it’s unclear if that message is one that needs sharing.

Amazon Alexa. Alexa is in a microwave, but we’re told there were lots of fails, like a podcast-playing toothbrush, a dog collar that orders dog food (to the annoyance of a delightfully grumpy Harrison Ford), and a malfunctioning space station Alexa that shuts off the world’s electrical grid. A great and playful demo of what Alexa can do — perhaps my favorite of the night so far.

Scary Stories movie. A girl, in a pink dress, with a large, um, blemish, running through the halls of a deserted school. No new ground here.

Michelob Ultra. Zoë Kravitz sits in an absolutely gorgeous valley in Hawaii (at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu, to be precise) to tell us (by whispering) there is now an organic version of Michelob Ultra. If that’s important to you, the ad does a good job of letting us know.

T-Mobile. A dad thinks texting is the same as “Googling” while he searches for an eggplant parmigiana recipe. The other T-Mobile ads were better.

Washington Post. Tom Hanks narrates an ad about why we need a free press, with images such as the Selma march, the moon landing, and the Oklahoma City bombing — followed by images of several journalists killed during, or because of, their coverage. The closing line: knowing keeps us free. Very effective.

So the game was a bit boring until the last 4 minutes or so. The ads? Pretty much a disappointment throughout the night. The high spots were the Hyundai elevator ad, the first (long) Bud Light corn syrup ad, and the Amazon Alexa ad. And the Amazon Alexa ad gets my nod as the best ad — good branding, clear message, and entertaining throughout.

If you missed any of the ads, you can check out most of the Super Bowl commercials here.

The post VantagePoint’s 2019 Super Bowl Commercial Review appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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It’s 2019. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and emojis are everywhere. This should be no surprise. Emojis have seeped through our typed vernacular and have become the first new language of the digital era. They are in our text messages, our Instagram captions, our grandmothers’ Facebook comments and — you guessed it! — in our B2B marketing campaigns. Emoji is not a language spoken exclusively by millennials toting iPhones and shoulder fanny packs. Emojis are for everyone.

Emoji history

The earliest ancestors of the emoji can be traced back to the realm of 1990s chat rooms, where the “emoticon” was developed. Emoticons were simple gestures like : – ) and : – ( or the flirty ; – ). Similar to emojis today, emoticons were used to express the sentiment behind typed messages. The first emoji was created by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999, using a mere 144 pixels. The Japanese designer developed a set of emojis equal to 176 designs that illustrated common ideas, places and emotions for his company DoCoMo. His goal was to save characters used in their internal communication platform, which limited each email to 250 characters. Emojis would be a mainstay in Japan for the next decade, until 2010 when they were picked up by Unicode and then released by iPhone and Android. Today, emojis have evolved to be popular, plentiful and diverse.

Emoji stats

The emoji language has amassed a total of 2,823 characters (as of the latest release, Emoji 11.0 in June 2018). As it relates to our digital language and presence online, 92 percent of the world’s online population use emojis. Don’t believe me? Check out this experimental, real-time emoji use tracker for Twitter.  According to the 2016 Emoji Report, people who are heavy emoji users are referred to as the “Emoji Elite” – and you might be surprised to find out that this group is made up of 31 percent baby boomers, 31 percent Generation X and 38 percent millennials. While the Emoji Elite group skews younger and female (56 percent), research shows that this is not an exclusive group; people of all ages and genders are speaking emoji. As emoji usage continues to surge, brands and marketers alike are taking notice.

Emoji in marketing

Effective marketing campaigns use customer data to drive a concise tonality that will resonate with their target audience. As emoji is quickly becoming a universal language, integrating emojis into your marketing campaigns should be a top consideration for 2019 and beyond. Emojis are ingrained into our everyday communication, but they are no longer confined to our messaging apps — they are go-to responses on social media platforms, they are used for retargeting digital ads, companies are buying emoji domains, and brands and celebrities alike are creating their own lines of custom emojis.

Not only should you incorporate emojis into your marketing tactics, you must. Brands who simply ignore the emoji uprising will soon feel the effects of their online presence being left behind in favor of more assimilated competitors.

How to implement emojis

Lucky for us, this evolutionary digital language has a significant upside if strategically implemented. Infusing emojis into your marketing will help humanize your brand and add more emotion and meaning to your content. Your audience can more easily interpret and respond to your posts and thus may be more likely to engage with your online content.

Here are five ways to integrate emojis into your marketing:

  1. Start small. If your brand is new to emojis, work with your PR or social media team to develop a strategy for integrating emojis into your marketing. Something like responding to positive customer feedback with a or is a good way to encourage engagement without disrupting your carefully developed brand voice.
  2. Get in tune with your audience. Research your audience on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Learn how they use emojis in their posts and determine a strategy that is natural to the way your audience reads and writes.
  3. Study context. (See Phil Dunphy, Modern Family, “Cool Dad” scene .) Much like Phil, blindly following a trend will not earn your brand cool points. To avoid an emoji fail, ensure that your emojis mean what you think they mean. Check the Emojipedia to read the intended meaning behind each emoji and search for emojis that compatible with your platforms.
  4. Act natural. Look into your existing online presence. Does your brand naturally align with a certain emoji (like or)? If so, embrace it and integrate it into your existing social media strategies.
  5. Test it out. Want to test the waters before jumping in? Great idea. Testing is a great way to determine audience engagement with emoji strategies. You could design an A/B email test to a 50/50 audience with emoji-laden copy or subject line versus a non-emoji email. Or create a paid social media post and split test the same message, testing one with emojis and one without.

While the future of emojis can only be determined by a , we can be sure they will continue to evolve, further mold our culture and influence our marketing strategies for years to come.

How do you humanize your brand? Drop us a comment — or an emoji — below.

The post 5 Tips to Integrate Emojis into your B2B Marketing Strategies appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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Though the major planning and prep work is behind you, it’s not too late to boost your NAFEM Show experience a bit more with a few last-minute tweaks. Check out these suggestions for using your booth, the show floor, social media and more to make the most of your trade show investment.

  • A social media presence tied to NAFEM (and other trade shows) can be a valuable way to support and extend your messaging beyond the walls of your booth. To make the most of it, ask yourself these 3 questions.
  • While you’re there, use the trade show floor as a golden opportunity for some competitor reconnaissance. Here are 4 steps to surveying the scene and walking away with ideas for positioning yourself above the field.
  • At a bustling trade show, it can be a challenge just to get potential customers’ attention. Here are 6 ideas to increase engagement and walk away with more badge scans.
  • And now that you’ve racked up those leads, make the most of them. 80% of leads gathered at a show are not followed up on, according to industry research. Don’t let potential customers fall through the cracks. Try these easy and quick ideas for post-show follow up.

The post 4 last-minute tips to nail The NAFEM Show appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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Declining sales — along with rising labor and food costs — made 2018 a difficult year for the restaurant industry. But the race to stay on the cutting edge never stops for top brands, and 2019 will surely be another year where overcoming these challenges will be the difference between moving ahead or falling behind.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, technology will play a key role in helping leading brands tackle their biggest obstacles to growth while staying relevant to their customers. The article highlights a few critical areas where investing in new technology could be a game-changer, including:

Delivery: For chains that haven’t traditionally offered delivery services, it can be a tall order to set up the necessary infrastructure to support it. From digital upgrades to expanding vehicle fleets, leading brands are doing what it takes to respond to this quickly growing trend.

Data: Customer information can help top chains tweak their advertising, optimize their menu offerings and align their service with diners’ interests and demands — but acquiring this data can be costly and inefficient. Then there’s the question of who owns customer data in the first place. More consequential decisions than ever will be driven by customer data in 2019.

Dollars: By making smart investments in new technology, chains will operate more efficiently and profitably in the year ahead — and that means better news for their bottom line. With food costs estimated to increase as much as five percent in the new year, chains will spend more on ingredients — and with the price tag of wages and benefits going up for operators, cost-saving technology could be the deciding factor in determining the most successful brands in 2019.

Want to keep updated on the latest trends? Subscribe to our blog to read all our marketing insight.

The post Technology Will Be Key to Solving Industry Challenges in 2019 appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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We just celebrated the end of 2018 and are looking forward to all that’s to come in the new year. While you might be making some personal resolutions to better yourself (like working off those 10 extra pounds you put on over the holidays), just as important are resolutions you’d like to make for your business in 2019. In what ways can you advertise differently and more effectively? I have some suggestions for advertising resolutions for 2019 that you could (and should) make your own.

1. Shoot more videos

If a picture is worth a thousand words, “one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words,” according to Forrester Research. Have you been incorporating video into your marketing strategy like you should? Video enables companies to connect with audiences using a multitude of senses, which is what makes it such an effective medium for advertising. Unconvinced? Take a look at this vidyard blog that explores the science behind why videos work and how viewers not only enjoy watching videos more but are also able to comprehend the meaning of a video faster and more effectively than text and even images alone. By using the senses of both sight and hearing, it is more likely that your message will resonate with viewers. More of this in 2019.

2. Incorporate marketing automation

It’s likely that you weren’t able to get through 2018 without hearing the words “marketing automation.” In case you didn’t, Salesforce defines marketing automation as “technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically.” This means that marketing automation allows you to create tailored content to segments of your audience, which can then be altered and customized based on their customer behavior. You can even program buyer journeys in advance, nurturing your audience based on where they are in the sales funnel and provide them with content that is relevant to them. Are you interested in marketing automation but scared to try it? Check out these 5 lessons learned from a co-worker’s first experience managing a marketing automation campaign.

3. Make time to review your metrics

When you’re stuck in the incessant “go, go, go” mindset during the year, you can find yourself jumping to the next advertising initiative without taking time to reflect on what went right or wrong with your campaign. Reflect on your analytics and KPIs from 2018 and make sure you pay attention to your successes and failures. Which marketing tactics worked? Which ones provided the greatest ROI? In the new year, you want to continue building upon your wins and ensure you don’t repeat any past mistakes.

I encourage you to look at 2019 as a year of opportunity. If you aren’t happy with the outcome of your adverting initiatives from the last year, make a resolution to switch things up! Are there other resolutions your making for your business this year? Let us know about them in the comments below!

The post 3 Advertising Resolutions for the New Year appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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In an ideal world, endless resources exist for big campaigns: a larger sales force, customers happy to go on the record with testimonials, photo shoots and more. But we all know we don’t live in an ideal world — and we often need to be more flexible, more resourceful and more, well, creative.

Over the past year, we’ve helped clients address various issues through a variety of tactics. But as I reflect on 2018 success stories, there are several projects that stand out for helping to solve a problem in a unique way. Here are three “small” examples.

Example #1:

Opportunity: Build thought leadership
Obstacle: Expense and time involved with publishing proprietary research studies or implementing a full-scale campaign
Solution: Content curation

To help associate one client with industry expertise, an “annual report”-style piece of gated content was created to share highly relevant industry news along with the company’s unique perspectives and advice for capitalizing on trends. The report was promoted through digital advertising and on social media, and a printed version was dispersed at trade shows.

Example #2:

Opportunity: Showcase the aesthetic appeal of new products through stunning photography
Obstacle: Significant difficulty/expense in finding locations appropriate for shooting and scheduling multiple product installation and photo shoots
Solution: 3D renderings

Our digital and motion graphics designer is one talented guy who can quite literally create something from almost nothing. By creating 3D scenes and modeling the client’s products, we were able to create a collection of new images featuring the products in the best possible light. These images would have been nearly impossible to achieve through traditional photo shoots.

Example #3:

Opportunity: Further leverage a valuable piece of content created months ago
Obstacle: Limited channels in which to share it with the target audience
Solution: Short-term LinkedIn sponsored content campaign

An investment was made in a valuable piece of content to be used as a sales tool earlier in the year, but several months later, it wasn’t being used as often as expected. To get it in front of the target audience faster, we utilized their existing (but rarely used) LinkedIn page to post a small backlog of relevant posts before sponsoring a post featuring the showcase piece. Targets were selected based on location, company industry, company size and job title. In just two months, we registered 80+ clicks with this simple campaign.

What obstacles are in your way for 2019? Try thinking differently about how best to overcome them.

The post Big problem? Think smaller | 3 small projects that helped address big obstacles appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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I turned on my TV the other night to watch a Christmas special and was immediately assaulted by not one, but TWO law firm ads. One with “satisfied customers” shaking their heads at the camera and holding up nine fingers, another with “clients” screeching to represent the “mascot” of the law firm.

Come on, folks — it’s nearly Christmas, and all (well, most) of us are feeling festive, giving, caring, etc. Why must my recent-national-talent-contest-winning-child-star’s charming Christmas show be interrupted by reaaallllyyy bad ads for injury lawyers, car sales and pharmaceuticals for obscure diseases?

Consider, for a moment, the Europeans. They have taken time to create and design absolutely gorgeous, epic storytelling ads that not only advertise a service or a company but often serve to bolster the spirit of the season — and the fact that the “adverts” get plenty of publicity for their sponsors outside of the paid media exposure is a nice added bonus.

I stumbled across this phenomenon in 2015 in this Fast Company article, which theorized that, for the Britons, Christmas is the “Super Bowl” of advertising. With brands like department store John Lewis and supermarkets Waitrose and Sainsbury’s leading the charge, it has become a contest of who could out-publicize, out-tear-jerk, out-spend, and out-create last year’s “winner.”

The ads themselves are gorgeous and epic, with beautifully designed characters (whether real life or animated) and carefully crafted stories that lend themselves to water cooler talk, rewatching, and even merchandising. (And, I suppose, even getting marketing folks like me to blog about them and increase their view count by a few dozen.)

I’ve compiled a few of my favorite examples here. So, from me to you, Merry Christmas — feel free to bookmark this page and come back and watch one of these gems the next time you have to suffer through an ad for a lawyer with a screeching bird of prey or a phone number full of repeating digits. Or just plain need a little Christmas cheer.

Believe in Christmas by Erste Group, an Austrian bank, 2018
Even those we find a little prickly are still worth loving.

Erste Christmas Ad 2018: What would Christmas be without love? - YouTube

Home for Christmas by Waitrose, a British supermarket, 2016
A little bird endures a great deal to (somewhat improbably) return “home” for Christmas dinner.

Waitrose Christmas TV ad 2016 HomeForChristmas - YouTube

English for Beginners by Allegro, a Polish auction website, 2016
A grandfather goes all-in to learn English for an important Christmas trip.

Czego szukasz w Święta? | English for beginners - YouTube

The Journey by John Lewis, a British retailer, 2013
A little girl’s snowman comes to life and undertakes a harrowing trip across the UK to find the perfect gift.

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2012 - The Journey - YouTube

(John Lewis’ Christmas adverts are so synonymous with the season that someone has compiled every one since 2007.)

Loteria de Navidad by El Gordo, Spain’s Christmas lottery, 2015
A night watchman at a mannequin plant gets in the holiday spirit for his daytime co-workers.

Best Lottery Commercial: El Gordo Navidad Will Touch Your Soul - YouTube

1914 by Sainsbury’s, a British department store, 2014
An unlikely Christmas Day ceasefire in the trenches of World War I.

1914 | Sainsbury's Ad | Christmas 2014 - YouTube

And my personal favorite:

Christmas with Love from Mrs Claus, by Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, 2016.
Mrs. Claus takes the gift giving into her own hands for one special boy. Full of wonderful, clever touches such as helicopter call letters RDOLF, confused glances between “knowing” parents while the kids wait impatiently on the stairs, and the choice of Mrs. Claus’s reading material while St. Nick is out doing his thing: “50 Shades of Red.”

M&S 2016 Christmas Ad: Christmas with love from Mrs Claus - YouTube

The post Why creative European holiday ads “win Christmas” appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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Tradeshow prep season is upon us. You’ve booked your booth space (probably around the time you wrapped up last year’s show). You know who’s producing your booth assets. You’re thinking through who’ll staff the booth. But what other big picture questions do you need to answer before you get down to the nitty-gritty details of marketing and branding at your next tradeshow?

Here are a few of the most critical strategic questions to ponder as you begin planning:

How (if at all) will this tradeshow be different than those in years past?

Consider the larger context of the show. It’s possible that the trade organization’s focus or emphasis has shifted slightly since the last show. If not, it’s still likely there are new drivers and trends that have emerged in the market since then. Furthermore, show location, timing and calendar proximity to other shows in the same market space could impact the quantity, quality and type of attendee.

What is our primary objective for the show?

Perhaps you’re targeting a specific number of quality leads or using the tradeshow as a platform for a new product launch. Whatever objective you’re looking to achieve, it should directly inform and influence the decisions you make at a tactical level — from booth messaging to collateral and giveaways — and thus should be agreed upon as early as possible.

What dates do I need to be mindful of?

The day the show begins is not the only date critical to tradeshow planning. As soon as you can, reach out to the company handling production and shipping of your booth assets (whether that’s one or multiple vendors) and ask them to provide a firm ship date for those assets, along with the date they’ll need all design files (for any new booth graphics that may need to be produced). From there, you can back out your project calendars and know when it’s time to get started.

Tradeshow planning can be as (or perhaps more) stressful than the show itself. Ask yourself the big picture questions above to help ensure your planning gets off to the right start — and share any other fundamental strategic planning tips and tricks you have below.

The post 3 Vital Questions to Consider During Tradeshow Planning appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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Social media has been through its iterations. What started as a place for college kids to share pictures of each other from last weekend (Facebook in 2006) has become a place for retirees to share parody news stories under the impression that they are 100 percent real (Facebook in 2018). Along the way we’ve gained thousands a few platforms — Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter being obvious mainstays — and lost a few as well (R.I.P. MySpace, Friendster and Google+. We hardly knew ye).

Likewise, how businesses use social media has evolved. Traditionally, the professional environment of social media has focused on the promotional capabilities of those channels, meaning businesses have used social media platforms to push information out to the masses. However, a recent trend popping up in B2B social media usage is using these platforms to generate information and business, mostly in the way of leads. You’ve probably seen this in dozens of emails offering social media lead generation training. “This training will teach you to use LinkedIn and Facebook to make hundreds of new connections with a targeted audience to increase your qualified sales calls and spend more time selling and less time prospecting.”

Sound familiar?

We get emails like this all the time as well, and I must say it’s pretty brazen — asking a marketing company that does social media if they want to spend money to let another business do their social media for them. These emails conjure the same questions and disbelief that one gets when watching a late-night infomercial: “Does that really work? There’s no way that works.”

To answer the question, yes, it does work, but like any as-seen-on-TV product, it can easily become a product that you purchase, use once and then put in the linen closet where it will never see the light of day again.

These social media lead generation programs are great tools when used correctly. They can get you in touch with hundreds of new, highly targeted prospects, but they take up time, a lot of time, which is why most businesses give up on them quickly. To get the most out of these programs there needs to be a near daily commitment to sending connection requests, posting content and messaging about 150 connections. If you have the time or a person on your team who has the time, these can be great methods to bringing in new leads. If not, consider finding a service that will handle those day-to-day tasks for you. If that’s the route you chose, make sure you do your research before choosing a partner:

  • Who have they worked with? Try to get a sense of the businesses these “lead generation experts” have worked with. Do they mention any of them on their website? Do they have any past or current clients that are a similar business to yours? Have they had any success with those businesses? If you’re, say, a manufacturer, you’ll just want to be sure they have experience with and understand the manufacturing sales journey.
  • Do they have any testimonials? No social proof or lack of testimonials on their website might tell you the businesses is in its infancy, and they’re just trying to pick up on this trend. This would also tell you they didn’t run any pilot programs or test accounts and just jumped right into it. A lack of testimonials probably equals a lack of experience.
  • What kind of on-boarding processes is involved? You’ll want to look for a business that will give you at least a two-hour sit-down education and discovery session when on boarding. This background information will be necessary for them to fully understand your business, needs, challenges and goals. Without this session, they won’t be able to effectively optimize your social media profiles or make the best connections.
  • Will they give you a sample list of connection requests? A samples list will act as proof for you that the partner you’re working with understands who your prospects are. If the list comes back filled with employee titles that are all over the map and not the type of people you’re trying to connect with, you can be sure they don’t understand your sales process.
  • Where is the business located? We’ve seen some located in India. In my personal opinion, there’s just no way a group half a world away will be able to be as connected with you as the group that is in your home city or close by and can be reached easily during normal business hours. Look for a business that can give you a personal connection.

It’s always important to do your homework before working with any new partner, but it may be even more crucial with these types of businesses, many of whom are some fly-by-nights just trying to get in on the social media lead generation trend.

For those having trouble determining your target prospects, take a look at why it’s more critical than ever to know your audience.

The post Social Media Lead Generation: Is It For Real? appeared first on VantagePoint Marketing.

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